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From cattle yard to Giant home

Date
Giants warm up at the official opening of SKODA Stadium.

Giants warm up at the official opening of SKODA Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Last month it was home for thousands of farm animals. On Saturday the turf of Sydney's revamped Showground Stadium will need to stand up to a testing AFL examination from Greater Western Sydney and Essendon.

The $65-million re-development of the Olympic Park venue is complete.

While much has been made of the ground's new creature comforts - including the largest video screen in the southern hemisphere - the work of curator Terry O'Keeffe will matter most on the weekend.

O'Keeffe, who worked at the SCG for eight years, has been charged with the tricky task of creating a suitable field at the AFL's newest venue, which for two weeks in April was trampled by cattle, dogs, sheep, horses, goats and woodchoppers at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

"The biggest challenge has been the time frame. We've only had 36 days to get it from an agricultural showground to a professional standard AFL ground," O'Keeffe told AAP.

"I am (confident it will hold up). They (GWS) had a good training run on Wednesday. They don't muck around and it held up surprisingly well.

"To be honest I was a bit nervy that morning but it came through quite well."

The surface of ANZ Stadium, which is a torpedo punt away from Showground Stadium, has been a bone of contention in the AFL over the past decade, with former St Kilda coach Ross Lyon the latest in a long line of critics.

Bombers coach James Hird is upbeat the surface won't be an issue on Saturday night.

"We've had some people up there. I think it's pretty good. There's some areas that are patchy a little bit with the grass," Hird said in Melbourne.

"But all reports have come back that it's definitely of AFL standard."

AAP

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